Guilderland grad develops fitness app
The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Demonstrating proper form: In his newly-released app, PIT Fitness, Joseph Bach performs each exercise in a video, with instructions, so users know how to complete them correctly. Some of the exercises include push-ups, like this one, beside his family’s Christmas tree; crunches; squats; and jumping jacks.
GUILDERLAND — For Jospeh Bach, fitness is a way of life, and, when he got burned out in the corporate world, he decided to help others incorporate exercise into their daily lives by creating an app for mobile devices.
Bach grew up in Guilderland, and played soccer and lacrosse at Guilderland High School before attending Syracuse University.
Bach’s first job out of college was in a financial management-training program for General Electric, and, after two-and-a-half years in that position, he took a job for a private equity investment firm in Washington, D.C.
“When I started getting burned out, I started thinking of other ideas, and they happened to be related to apps,” said Bach, who now lives in Los Angeles, Calif. “I had no software or coding experience, but I thought I could put enough pieces together to make it work.”
Following his favorite hobby, he gravitated toward a fitness-related program.
“Working out is like a good reset button if you’re having a bad day,” said Bach. “I also think exercising leads to healthier choices throughout all aspects of life.”
Bach said he started designing one fitness app, but, as he was working out at the gym with his personal trainer, Trent Bender, the two began discussing another idea.
Bender told Bach that he, too, had always been interested in creating a workout app, but hadn’t had the time. For Bender, making a fitness app would give his clients access to his guidance when they were too busy to make it to the gym.
The pair decided to partner up, and they developed PIT Fitness, a mobile app that can be downloaded to a tablet or smartphone.
Since neither Bach nor Bender had experience with software programming, they turned to a website called oDesk, which allows people to post digital needs, and freelance programmers can bid on the work.
“We ended up going with a coding group out of India,” said Bach.
He and Bender decided to include another friend, Bill Fishkin, and Fishkin oversaw the development team, which Bach said meant holding meetings via Skype late at night, because of the 13-hour time difference to India.
Bender wrote out all the different workouts, and he and Bach filmed instructional videos for each exercise, and then mapped out the various sequences in Microsoft Excel.
Bach put together a Microsoft Powerpoint document to lay out what he wanted the user experience to be.
“I wanted to give something to the developers so they could understand what the coding would do,” said Bach. “I wanted them to be able to see the big picture.”
Bach and his partners reviewed over 100 different iterations of the app before they deemed it ready to publish, he said.
The final result is an app that puts, in the palm of your hand, 1,500 different full-body, video-guided workouts that can be done anywhere — at home, at the gym, or in a hotel room — with or without equipment.
“We wanted to create the most efficient workout we could,” said Bach. “It’s something that will rev up your metabolism and you don’t need any equipment.”
Though there are workouts that require bodyweight only, the app also includes workouts that use dumbbells, kettlebells, and sandbags.
“If you’re in the gym, and you need a suggestion for how to use new equipment, you can turn to the app,” he said.
The program is designed to be useful to beginners and fitness buffs alike. Users can select a workout based not only on available equipment, but on time, and fitness level, too.
Bach said the software was uploaded to both Apple and Google, and reviewed to make sure it met two criteria — it didn’t crash the system and didn’t contain pornography.
“We checked those two boxes off, so the software was released and then it was up to us to publicize it and get the word out to sell it,” said Bach.
The entire process took roughly one-and-a-half years.
He said the app has mainly been publicized through social media — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
“We haven’t had a meaningful, life-changing number of downloads yet, but I’m trying to partner with someone who has a distribution channel that’s already robust,” said Bach. “We’ve gotten great feedback on the product; it’s just a matter of getting wider dissemination.”
In the meantime, Bach said, he’s picking up consulting gigs in his “old world” of financing and management, and he hopes that the app, which is available through itunes and Google Play for $2.99, will see an upswing in sales soon.
“Fitness can help you be more successful in whatever it is that you’re doing in life,” said Bach. “And, it’s something anyone can achieve.”